How did the experience of this work transform you?
Please write your contemplative interpretation of Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow (Available on Amazon Prime). Upload your interpretation to the forums section of Blackboard by Noon (EST) Monday. Be sure to read the other forum entries before class time if possible and be prepared to discuss them during class. You must make final draft revisions to meet the assignment guidelines before the Sunday deadline each week. It is therefore important that you remember to complete each assignment as instructed and submit each assignment on time.
The following detailed guidelines are to assist you on your inward journey towards the practice of contemplative inquiry in our course. I also advise you all to read the posts offered by others in the final draft form on Sunday to get a sense of where their journey of inquiry has led them. This may also help you develop your capacity to meet the assignment guidelines as well as to communicate about complexity with greater clarity and brevity. If you use the interactive forums as indicated below, you may find them as rich a tool for self-inquiry as I have. You will also improve your ability to articulate your personal meaning of heightened aesthetic and contemplative experiences with Contemporary Art.
Practice contemplative inquiry as an inward or inner action. Remember to always write in the first person for all assignments in this course (I, Me, My). A contemplative response is about your sustained mindful aesthetic experience with the work. This means that you are engaged in primary research (first person) through your unique aesthetic encounters with the work. In these short essays for the interactive forums, please use no external sources other than the dictionary and grammar and spell check functions in your word processing program. Do not Google, or attempt to use external research sources beyond your own insights, which draw upon your own experiences. If you struggle with what the works mean to you, then experience the work again and thus re-search within your own consciousness. Your submissions are scanned by Safe-assign so avoid any cut and paste from the Internet or from other student entries in the forum. Keep in mind that these responses are about your unique and personal experiences with the work and feel free to explore the resulting insights with total confidence and manifest a fierce liberty of your personal inquiry.
Practice contemplative inquiry in a relaxed and open state of aesthetic receptivity. In the practice of contemplative inquiry, I find it very helpful to first prepare myself to have a rich aesthetic experience with the work. I also have further experiences with the work beyond the first encounter. I wait until at least the next day to write about my experience with the work to allow time for a quiet inner rumination upon my experience. I find it is also important to allow yourself to work in a rested state of consciousness without other distractions or stresses. Ask yourself what make you more open and receptive to new revelations and transformations. Perhaps a good meal prepared with love, a long relaxing bath, some mindful exercise or meditation practice, plenty of rest the night before, or other conscious acts of self-care will help you achieve a more receptive state of awareness in order to practice contemplative inquiry. These and other practices can enhance our aesthetic receptivity with art. Thus, contemplative inquiry may become almost effortless over time, as in the Taoist notion of wu-wei (often translated as effortless action, or non-doing).
Practice contemplative inquiry over time and without intentionally thinking about the work. Let your contemplative experience grow within you over an extended time throughout the week and thus allow the revelations and transformations to happen within you before you begin writing or revising your essay. Since these works are studied over a week long period, you might first experience the work over the weekend before the beginning of the new unit of study, write your first responses in a day or two, then begin this cycle of aesthetic inquiry again, and even a third time before composing your final draft of these short essays by the end of the week deadline. Another helpful method is to only use simple sentences, and to avoid the use of punctuation other that periods. This allows you to communicate your thoughts with greater clarity as well as to be able to say more while using fewer words. I find that longer complex sentences often attempt to say too much and yet say very little clearly. Simple sentences manifest linguistic minimalism while achieving greater clarity and brevity.
Practice contemplative inquiry in the way you write. Begin by writing your title as a two-word metaphor. It is important to do this first since your essay will flow from this metaphor and thus the text will manifest a natural order of progression. Titles written afterward often read like afterthoughts since they sum up the end rather than serving as a beginning. These two words are to spark sentient evocation in the consciousness of the reader. Do not base essays on artist intention, assessing merit, taste(s), or opinion(s). Write your responses without presuming, assuming, or suggesting judgment(s) and/or making unsupported claims of any kind. Speak of your direct experience with the work and make no claims based upon other human beings and their imagined perceptions or other hypothetical experiences with the work. Be sure to answer these two questions explicitly and with equal depth in each of these short essays. What does this work reveal to you? How did the experience of this work transform you? Be sure that the first sentence of all your response and research papers follows the phrasing below and is completed by a phrase that interprets your metaphor rather than repeating the title. Please write this assignment in a word processing program and be sure to use the spelling and grammar check function. Cut and paste the final content into the Interactive Forum section on Blackboard. Be sure to use the checklist below and make any changes that may be needed. The answer to all of these questions should be yes before you upload your essay. Pay close attention to the assessment rubrics below that will be the basis for my grade for these essays.
Has your paper met all of the guidelines provided for this assignment explicitly?
Has your essay avoided all description of this work of art and analysis of the work?
Does your essay manifest contemplative inquiry and offer your personal interpretation?
Is your essay title a two word metaphor written before the essay and interpreted in the first sentence?
Does your essay begin: “Artist name” “title” may be interpreted as (and interpret rather than describe)?
Do the following two sections begin with “This work reveals to me…” and “This work transforms my…”?
Have you avoided abstract terminology such as: ideas, people, progress, society, nature, technology, etc?
Have you avoided all assumptions, generalizations, sweeping abstractions and other universal claims?
Have you avoided assessing merit, or offering judgments/opinions of the quality of the work of art?
Have your proofread your paper for clarity of phrasing, grammar, and spelling errors?
Have you included the word count and is it in the range of 190-210?
Have you stayed in first person (I, me, my) in all sentences?